Chair Test

Chair Test

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The chair test was devised by Dutch parapsychologist Professor Wilhelm H.C. Tenhaeff at the University of Utrecht. Professor Tenhaeff set up an Institute of Parapsychology at the university, similar to the one founded by Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine at Duke University, and the famous psychic Gérard Croiset of the Netherlands. The chair test required Croiset to describe, in detail, the future occupant of a randomly chosen chair in a lecture hall.

Seats for lectures could not be reserved and sometimes even the actual venue was not determined till close to the date of the lecture. The number of a chair in a lecture hall was chosen at random, days or even weeks ahead of the scheduling of a lecture. Anywhere from a few hours to several days before the lecture, Croiset was asked to describe the person who would occupy the chair on the specified date, including a number of personal details. These descriptions were very specific, often including hair and eye color, height, physique, age, dress, even marks on the body. Croiset’s predictions were recorded, and the recording was placed in a sealed bag and locked away in a safe. At the lecture, the recording would be played back and the occupant of the chair asked to stand up and comment on Croiset’s observations. Croiset showed incredible accuracy with this test and with many others. Occasionally Croiset was unable to get any information. On those occasions it turned out that the seat remained empty for the lecture. Sometimes he got very confusing images, which were later explained by the fact that more than one person used the chair.

The first such test was given in Amsterdam in October 1947, in front of the Dutch Society for Psychical Research. By 1951, experts from around the world had been invited to participate and to monitor the conditions, gradually improving the test to make it more severe. In 1961, Professor Tenhaeff published a scholarly collection of records of the tests in a 300-page book titled De Voorschouw (Precognition).

One of the cases is quoted by Pollack, in his book on Croiset. He calls it “Last Minute Ticket:”

On the afternoon of March 6, 1950, when nosing around for a story, Amsterdam journalist E.K. telephoned Gérard Croiset in Enschede asking for some concrete evidence of his powers, the news of which was then spreading over the Netherlands.

“Well, in two days,” replied Croiset, “I am giving a chair test before the Utrecht chapter of the Society for Psychical Research. Please pick a chair number for then. Name any number you want.”

“Row 7, third chair from the right,” volunteered the Dutch journalist.

“All right,” replied Croiset. “Please make a note of these impressions that I am now giving you. I see on this chair will sit a lady with gray hair. She has a slim figure and is a lean type. She likes to help people, but calls everything she does “Christian social work.”

When these facts were checked under Dr. Tenhaeff’s supervision on the evening of March 8, this particular chair was found to be occupied by a Protestant Sister of Mercy, Sister L.B., who, indeed, did Christian social work. Croiset’s description of her was a direct hit. It couldn’t possibly have fitted anyone else present.

Sister L.B. acknowledged the paragnost’s description of her as being accurate. She said that she had almost stayed at home, and her choice of the seat was unpremeditated … Investigator Tenhaeff’s later checkup revealed:

“Sister L.B. was not a member of the Dutch Society for Psychical Research. It was purely accidental that she received an admission ticket as late as 5:40 pm on March 8. Croiset gave his information to journalist E.K. when the participants of the test had not yet received their invitations. Moreover, the person who gave Sister L.B. her ticket did not know any of the facts furnished by the paragnost.”

Sources:

Pollack, Jack Harrison: Croiset the Clairvoyant. New York: Doubleday, 1964
Wilson, Colin: The Supernatural: Mysterious Powers. London: Aldus Books, 1975
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